Piemontese Sinti - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The age of marriage has increased as the Piemontese have shifted from a nomadic to a settled lifestyle. Because of public education and the decline of training in Piemontese crafts, the young often delay marriage, thus also denying themselves the status of adults in the Community. Premarital sexual relations are also more common now than in the past and virginity at marriage for females is now more an ideal than a reality. Marriages are common between both first and second cousins. Marriage is by elopement, with a respected man acting as a go-between for the couple and their parents. The marriage is then officially recognized through a religious service and a feast attended by both Families. The parents help the couple set up a household, with patrilocal residence more common than matrilocal. Divorce is rare, but when it does occur the woman and her children are cared for by her family.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the basic residential and economic unit, although it is often closely linked to four or five other families.

Inheritance. Except for a few personal items, such as jewelry or pictures kept in a secret place, property of the deceased is either burned or sold to non-Sinti without haggling. The proceeds from the sale are spent on the deceased. Socialization. Sinti infants are cared for closely by their mothers, who look after them day and night, react immediately to their cries, and sometimes nurse them until they are four years of age. This indulgent nurturing fits well with Sinti values, which stress the avoidance of frustrating situations and catering to individual needs. Consequently, parents prefer to talk to their children and convince them to obey rather than to punish them. As they get older, children are expected to help in return for what they receive and eventually are deemed able to make their own judgments about how they use their time. This indulgent-permissive socialization process produces adult Sinti who are able to work autonomously, live a nomadic life-style, and bargain effectively with customers.

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